Expensive football helmets offer same protection as cheaper options

Posted at 4:24 PM, Feb 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-25 17:18:30-05

DENVER, Colo. — A new study says expensive high school football helmets aren't any safer than their cheaper counterparts.

With 13 high school football player deaths in 2015, parents are paying closer attention to helmets, with some willing to pay high prices to protect their children from injuries. 

"Parents want to protect their children, and they think that if they buy the most expensive helmet or the helmet with the highest rating, their child must be safer," said Dawn Comstock, PhD, with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. "We found that's not true."

Comstock is the senior author of the new study from the Colorado School of Public Health that says lab testing does not directly correlate with on-field concussions.

High school athletic trainers across the country report football injuries to Comstock's database, called the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance System. This particular study focused on the 2008-09 and the 2012-13 seasons.

On average, there were eight concussions for every 10,000 times a player stepped on the field.




Head injuries were more serious when players wore helmets that were not approved by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) seal.

"It's kind of the sports version of the 'Good Housekeeping' seal," said Comstock. "Any helmet that's certified by NOCSAE should keep their child safe."

Comstock also encourages parents to ask if helmets have been reconditioned within the last year. She says the date of reconditioning will be marked on the helmet.

"Any broken pieces are fixed, any padding that needs to be replaced is replaced, so basically, the football helmet is made near new again," said Comstock.

It's a simple ask that could save your child from a concussion, and maybe even save a life.

High and low rated helmets had similar effects when it came to concussion symptoms, symptom resolution time, and the time it took injured athletes to get cleared to play.